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Censorship at Microsoft GitHub and Employees Protesting, Leaving

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Microsoft
  • Github removes Tsunami Democràtic’s APK after a takedown order from Spain

    Microsoft-owned Github has removed the APK of an app for organizing political protests in the autonomous community of Catalonia — acting on a court takedown request sent by Spain’s Guardia Civil, a national police force with military status.

    As we reported earlier this month supporters of independence for Catalonia have regrouped under a new banner — calling itself Tsunami Democràtic — with the aim of rebooting the political movement and campaigning for self-determination by mobilizing street protests and peaceful civil disobedience.

    The group has also been developing bespoke technology tools to coordinate protest action. It’s one of these tools, the Tsunami Democràtic app, which was being hosted as an APK on Github and has now been taken down.

  • GitHub is trying to quell employee anger over its ICE contract. It’s not going well

    When GitHub Chief Executive Nat Friedman announced on Oct. 9 his company would donate half a million dollars to nonprofits helping communities affected by the Trump administration’s immigration policies, it was a peace offering of sorts.

    Employees had recently learned that the Microsoft-owned software development platform had renewed its 2016 contract with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency.

    In donating the money and making clear his personal disagreement with harsh immigration law enforcement, Friedman appeared intent on averting an internal protest of the sort that has roiled other technology firms whose software powers controversial government policies.

    It didn’t work.

    In the weeks since, frustration has risen among some within GitHub. After promising to address questions on the ICE relationship at a Q&A session scheduled for Oct. 11, executives canceled the meeting, blaming the cancellation on employee leaks, according to an email reviewed by The Times. At an all-hands meeting held Oct. 24, executives did not discuss the results of a quarterly survey showing negative sentiment toward GitHub’s leadership as planned, according to two employees.

    With the issue refusing to go away, GitHub executives have changed their internal messaging, including a memo to employees saying that barring ICE from “access to GitHub could actually hurt the very people we all want to help,” in the words of Chief Operating Officer Erica Brescia.

    “We have learned from a number of nonprofits and refugee advocates that one of the greatest challenges facing immigrants is a lack of technology at ICE and related agencies, resulting in lost case files, court date notifications not being delivered, or the wrong people being charged or deported,” read a companywide posting sent Oct. 22, signed by Brescia and the leadership team.

    Brescia’s letter was a second response to an Oct. 9 open letter from employees calling on GitHub to cancel its contract with ICE. The employees behind it said continuing to work with ICE would make the San Francisco-based company “complicit in widespread human rights abuses.” In the company’s initial response, Friedman said that though he disagreed with the immigration policies ICE is enforcing, canceling the contract would not convince the Trump administration to change them. Friedman also said the revenue from the contract — about $200,000 — was not financially material for the company.

    In response to requests for comment, GitHub referred The Times back to Friedman’s Oct. 9 blog post.

    GitHub is just the latest tech company to face employee resistance to government contracts, particularly those with the Department of Homeland Security. In June 2018, Google, facing employee opposition, said it would not renew its contract to develop artificial intelligence systems for the Pentagon. In the same month, 500 Amazon workers called on executives to stop selling facial recognition to the government, without result. Employees of the e-commerce brand Wayfair walked out of their offices in June 2019 to protest the sale of beds to immigration detention centers.

More in Tux Machines

Review: Garuda Linux 200817

One of the more recent additions to the DistroWatch database is Garuda Linux, an Arch-based distribution that offers several enticing features. By default Garuda is intended to be run on the Btr file system, which offers all sorts of attractive features such as multi-disk storage volumes and snapshots. Btrfs has been paired with Timeshift on Garuda and the system is reported to take automatic snapshots before each package upgrade, making the system much easier to recover. I especially like the idea of having automated filesystem snapshots on a rolling release distribution such as Arch. The openSUSE Tumbleweed rolling release has offered automatic snapshots of the system prior to upgrades for a while now and it is nice to see this feature catching on in other projects. The Garuda distribution ships with the Calamares system installer to make setting up the operating system easier. We are also given a desktop tool for managing drivers and Garuda's website mentions proprietary NVIDIA video drivers are optionally available. Rounding out some of the key features, Garuda ships with the Zen Linux kernel with the goal of providing better desktop performance. Read more

Linux 5.9-rc6

  • Linux 5.9-rc6
    Another week, another rc, and things look fairly normal: the diffstat
    looks fairly flat (implying small changes) and we don't have any
    unusual amount of activity.
    
    The one thing that does show up in the diffstat is the softscroll
    removal (both fbcon and vgacon), and there are people who want to save
    that, but we'll see if some maintainer steps up. I'm not willing to
    resurrect it in the broken form it was in, so I doubt that will happen
    in 5.9, but we'll see what happens.
    
    The other stats also look normal: about 60% of the patch is drivers
    (and yes, the softscroll is a noticeable part, but not overwhelmingly
    so - there's sound, gpu, mtd, i2c, usb etc). And the usual arch
    updates, along with some vm fixes (including the fix for the
    performance regression noted last rc) and perf tooling updates.
    
    We also have a (test regression (not the performance one) in the VM
    that we know about - the test that triggers this was admittedly buggy,
    but if the test was buggy it is quite possible that real uses are
    buggy too. We don't actually have any known case of any such real user
    breakage, but we do have a nice fix for the test regression that is
    very  much the RightThing(tm) to do in the long run, so that has been
    actively discussed.
    
    We know what the fix looks like, and a few initial patches have been
    floating around, but a final patch doesn't exist yet, and depending on
    how that goes this might be something that pushes out the final 5.9 by
    a week. We'll see.
    
    So there's still some development going on, but honestly, that VM case
    is a very odd corner case that normal users should never hit, so it
    should not keep anybody from testing this in the meantime.
    
    Holler if you see anything odd,
    
                      Linus
    
  • Linux 5.9-rc6 Released With Soft Scrollback Removed, Performance Regression Fixed

    The sixth weekly release candidate to Linux 5.9 is now available with at least two notable changes in particular. Prominent in Linux 5.9-rc6 is the fix for the previously reported performance regression hitting 5.9. In case you missed it from the end of last week, see the article on controlling page lock unfairness as part of addressing the performance regression. That code is now in Linux 5.9-rc6 and the performance is back on track with Linux 5.8 while I will have out more benchmark numbers soon on the revised Linux 5.8 vs. 5.9 performance state.

  • Kernel prepatch 5.9-rc6

    The 5.9-rc6 kernel prepatch is out.

today's leftovers

  • Fair Code vs Open Source, Which Wins The Future?

    When developers release their software as open source, they are also giving a by-definition right to every company in the world to commercially use their software without having to obtain a license or share some profits with them. And this caused some problems in the open source world few years ago. For example, Amazon took the MongoDB source code (An open source database system), changed its name and then provided it as a SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) on its AWS platform, and then charged people money to use it. MongoDB developers were angered since they literally got nothing back from Amazon although they are the original creators of 100% of the code. This adds some sustainability problems to open source projects, as anybody and any company can just take the code and then reuse it commercially without giving anything back to the original developers. The original developers may starve and the project may stop, and there would be no obligation by anyone to commercially pay them. Fair code initiative arose from this context; To prevent anyone from using the software commercially without contacting the original software authors first, making it under the umbrella of what’s known as source-available models.

  • How to Convert a Project to REUSE Compatible License Statements?

    This blog post provides a step-by-step example about how the conversion of a project to REUSE compatible license statements is done in practice. For my setup, I have a readily configured kdesrc-build environment. First, I get out the most recent source code if the project I want to convert. For this tutorial, I use KTurtle, which is a nice and small application from KDE Education with just about 200 files.

  • Best Python Data Science Libraries
  • John Cook: Descartes and Toolz

    I was looking recently at the Python module toolz, a collection of convenience functions. A lot of these functions don’t do that much. They don’t save you much code, but they do make your code more readable by making it more declarative. You may not realize need them until you see them. For example, there is a function partitionby that breaks up a sequence at the points where a given function’s value changes. I’m pretty sure that function would have improved some code I’ve written recently, making it more declarative than procedural, but I can’t remember what that was. Although I can’t think of my previous example, I can think of a new one, and that is Descartes’ rule of signs.

  • How big data forced the hunt for extraterrestrial intelligence to evolve

    Interest in SETI can be used to bring the public into science as well. A recent collaboration between the SETI Institute and the open-source software project GNU Radio aims to give people the opportunity to learn about radio engineering, digital signal processing, and radio astronomy. By purchasing a dongle for around $25, members of the public can digitize analog radio signals and process signals on their computers.        

  • Getting credit: Taking your place in a meritocracy

    Dealing with either of those incredibly frustrating situations without appearing petty is difficult. But getting credit for your ideas and work is critical in today's organizational environments, especially those that aspire to be well-functioning meritocracies. Promotions, bonuses, and other forms of recognition (such as the opportunity to lead the project you proposed) are all generally based on performance. If people don't know you contributed, you'll likely be continually overlooked.

  • Battlefield 4 On Linux | Ubuntu 20.04 | Steam Play

    Battlefield 4 running through Steam Play on Linux.

Flameshot Screenshot Tool 0.8.0 Released with Counter Tool

Flameshot, powerful yet simple to use screenshot tool, released version 0.8.0 with new editing tools, improvements, and many fixes. Flameshot 0.8.0 added the popular requested circle counter tool. It added a button in left-side of screen to open the sidebar, which was previously only accessible by hitting Space on keyboard. The blur tool has been replaced by pixelate tool. If the “thickness” is 0 or 1, the old blur behavior is preserved. If the thickness is increased past 1 the image will pixelate by the thickness. Read more